Are you brand loyal?
Think hard about this one: Do you buy a particular brand of anything because you consciously like it and choose it, or just out of habit, or because you/your family/your friends have always used it?
I was watching a webinar on small business branding given by marketing/branding expert Jim Joseph and hosted by Vocus.com. Joseph spoke of the difference between brand loyalty and brand apathy, a difference that I honestly had never given much thought to before.
Brand loyalty is when you consciously and consistently choose a particular brand. For example, you might want coffee every morning before you go to work. You choose to buy a cup at a certain coffee shop whose name rhymes with CarPucks because you consciously choose that brand, you like that brand and that brand seems to care about you.
Brand apathy is when you don’t really choose a brand, you just go with it because it’s something you’ve gotten used to. Maybe you wash your clothes with a detergent that rhymes with Ride because you recall your mother or father using it for their laundry when you were a child. You haven’t given much thought about what it does for you, your clothes or your washing machine, you just go with it.
You might think, “Who cares why they buy my brand, so long as they buy it?” As an owner of a business of any size, you want to be a benchmark brand, that is, the brand that everyone looks to as the best choice and chooses consciously because you offer the best brand experience and you’re always innovating to best meet the customer’s needs. Brands that are purchased through brand apathy are always in danger of losing their customer base. Anything from a change in packaging to a price fluctuation could make a customer suddenly take notice and take their business somewhere else.
For me, moo.com, a company that makes business cards, is a benchmark brand. In addition to providing excellent products and having a pleasant, whimsical tone, they provide excellent customer service. I once purchased a new set of business cards, only to realize the next day that they were holding a sale. I immediately emailed customer service and asked if there was any way the discount could be applied retroactively. A service representative immediately emailed me back, stating that my credit card had been refunded the difference.
THAT is what I call service.
That is what I call a good customer branding experience.
Are you a benchmark brand? When you think of benchmark brands, what brands come to mind, and why?